Child Protective Services (CPS) can open a case to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect. Across many parts of the country, this is called a dependency case, across others, a CPS investigation. Knowing what to do if you find CPS knocking on your door can help you and your family achieve an optimal outcome in your custody dispute.
To schedule a consultation with our team for your custody dispute, contact us online or via phone at (718) 215-0121.
When Do CPS Investigations Happen?
When the Statewide Central Register (SCR) receives a report of suspect child abuse or neglect, Child Protective Services (CPS) is required to investigate that report. Some individuals, such as doctors, teachers and social workers, are "mandated reporters," meaning they are required to submit a report to SCR if they believe a child is being abused or neglected. Other individuals can choose to voluntarily submit a report, anonymously if need be.
After receiving a report of potential child neglect or abuse via SCR, CPS will send a caseworker to investigate the report. This typically involves going to the child's place of living and investigating whether they may be in potential danger. CPS investigators can have interviews with parents or other individuals in the home as part of this process.
After completing their initial investigation, CPS will assign a priority to the case. If CPS believes the child is in immediate danger, they will move to remove the child from their home and initiate a full-scale CPS investigation within 24 hours. If CPS believes the child is not in immediate danger but is not being properly cared for, they will move to attempt to rectify the situation within 48-72 hours.
If CPS believes the child is in immediate danger, CPS officials will file a neglect petition against the child's parents, transitioning the case to the purview of a family law court.
When a Child Is Not in Danger, But Parents Are Not Caring for Them Adequately
In many cases, CPS investigators find that - due to a lack of education or other factors - a child is not being cared for properly, but removal of the child from their home is not necessarily the solution.
Under such circumstances, CPS usually moves to help the child's parents gain the necessary education or parenting skills to help their child live a good life. This may involve enrolling them in parental education programs and continuing to carry out regular CPS visits until the situation improves.
When a Neglect Petition Is Filed
If CPS officials file a neglect petition, it is because they determine a child is in immediate danger if they remain in their home. If a parent disagrees with this assessment, they can petition the family court overseeing the neglect petition.
In many cases involving neglect petitions, CPS moves to rehome the child immediately. They may house the child with relatives or in a foster care facility until the court and CPS can investigate the case further.
If the court and CPS find that a parent has engaged in parental abuse or neglect, it may terminate that parent's rights, enabling a family member to assume parentship of the child instead. If no family members can or wish to adopt or claim guardianship of the child, the child may instead be moved into foster care until an appropriate family can be found.
CPS investigations often take a significant amount of time to resolve. In some cases, the court and CPS may work with parents to take the necessary steps to care for their child properly and allow the child to return home once the parents have demonstrated an improved capability to care for them. In other cases, the parent may not have such an opportunity.
If you're involved in a CPS investigation, having an attorney you can trust by your side is vital. To schedule a consultation with our team and speak with us about your case, contact us online or via phone at (718) 215-0121.